Monday, February 2, 2015

“Serving Neighbors, Serving God” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday February 8, 2015

Purpose: To realize the identity of my neighbor

Bible Lesson: Luke 10:25-37

Luke 10:25-37 (CEB)
(25) A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to gain eternal life?" (26) Jesus replied, "What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?" (27) He responded, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself." (28) Jesus said to him, "You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live." (29) But the legal expert wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

(30) Jesus replied, "A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He encountered thieves, who stripped him naked, beat him up, and left him near death. (31) Now it just so happened that a priest was also going down the same road. When he saw the injured man, he crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. (32) Likewise, a Levite came by that spot, saw the injured man, and crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. (33) A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came to where the man was. But when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. (34) The Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, tending them with oil and wine. Then he placed the wounded man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. (35) The next day, he took two full days’ worth of wages and gave them to the innkeeper. He said, ‘Take care of him, and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs.’ (36) What do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor to the man who encountered thieves?" (37) Then the legal expert said, "The one who demonstrated mercy toward him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

You may notice that I have included the final three verses in my text, of this story. To me the story of the Inn Keeper is an important part of the story. The Inn Keeper shows both compassion and trust. That a Jewish Innkeeper would trust a Samaritan for payment shows real compassion and trust on his part.

Let us first look at the original question, “what must I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus’ answer is rather typical, Jesus answers with another question. “What is the law, and how do you interpret it?”

Up to this point the legal expert and Jesus agree completely. Eternal life is gained by "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself." This is a quote from a combination of two Old Testament verse, Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. The legal expert proves his knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures.

Now, the legal expert, adds to his original question, “who is my neighbor?” When we depend on the “law” to obtain eternal life, we must be certain that we understand and obey every aspect of that law.

The characters in Jesus’ story are depicted as two people that should be understanding and compassionate of someone in trouble along a dangerous stretch of road. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho is a steep, rocky road. In a distance of seventeen miles there is a drop of 3,400 feet. That the two individuals are descending from Jerusalem to Jericho implies that these two servants that worked in the Temple in Jerusalem were finished with their assignments for temple duty and returning home. There were three types of duties within the temple, the chief priest, the assigned priest, and the assigned Levites. Each had specific duties during their term of service at the temple.

Now it is true that if any of them came in contact with a dead body they would be ceremonially unclean for seven days. However, there was a remedy for that. Numbers 19: 11-13 says, “The person who touches the dead body of any human will be unclean for seven days. (12)That person must be cleansed with water on the third and seventh days to be clean. If he fails to be cleansed with water on the third and seventh days, he will not be clean. (13) Anyone who touches the body of a human who has died and doesn’t cleanse himself defiles the Lord’s dwelling. Such persons must be cut off from Israel because the water of purification wasn’t sprinkled on them. They remain unclean” So worst case scenario for these two, they could not work or perform duties in the temple for seven days, but their time of service had probably ended, so they had no excuse.

The story concludes with the legal expert answering his own question. The one that showed compassion and mercy that is the example to follow. Being a servant of Christ means being Christ like, Christ has shown us all great compassion and mercy through the work that he did on the cross. We can emulate Christ by showing mercy and grace to those that we meet, that are in need of mercy, compassion and grace.

If we meet them, they are our neighbor. If they need help, they are our neighbor. Everyone we can help and refuse to help aligns us with the priest and the Levite.

I am reminded of the old Fanny Crosby hymn “Rescue the Perishing”

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